Philosophy

Pride Of Place

“Man, there are so many beautiful places. If you could see it with my eyes… well, let me make something here so you can see what I’m talking about… it’s gonna be great.” -Me

Everybody moves to the island because they fall in love with what they behold as “island life: a better life” or at least they think they could. What folks greatly under estimate on this journey of reckoning the grass is greener, is the impact they have–on the culture, the people, the place. Every person makes a difference, for better or worse. The trick is to discover what impact you’re having. To make your affect conscious whatever it is. To bring an awareness to your behavior and its impact beyond your nose. If it’s uncomfortable, you’re doing it right. Often times it’s both: you make something better, and something else gets worse. It’s not a matter of linear perfection, it’s a matter of awareness that maintains and seeds “island life: a better life” as resonate truth for generations.

It depends who you talk to on how better or worse is defined. I have gotten a cease and desist order for attempting to host two chickens for eggs in my backyard. “They don’t want fresh eggs?!” I was incredulous but what’s more, I was humbled in the face of the notice on my door that what’s better is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. I invite you to behold.

I will say, if someone wants to smack something down by making the case it breaks the no poultry farming rule in the neighborhood, they ought to prove they are making something that contributes to wellness of the community, and not just being an a*hole. I would call it the No A*holes clause.

In general, in every place, what’s actually progress has been viewed historically as bad at the time. This is just the way we are. Negative nellies. That said, the progress happening around here isn’t all unicorns and rainbows either. We manage the swing by pressing our persons into what we value by working to embody the tenants more, by building groups for and against, by posting on facebook. We talk about if not what we have, what we want to have. There are lots of questions. As a harborer of optimism, I say this is all good and that it works out. Who said, If it’s not OK, it’s not the end? That.

Bainbridge Island I’ve called home for just over a decade now. I’m committed to raising my children here, so by my watch I’ll be here for another decade. So, what else am I doing here? Truth be told, I am more in love with the island today than on the first day we met. I’m invested. It’s a beautiful place, just like the license plate frames say. Lots of spots to be seen, but more importantly, lost of spots to get lost in, to build and toil on whatever your heart’s desire. We gotta be turning out at least one hermit a day. Also! The thing about getting lost is: it can be shared. People are down for getting lost together, and this island is a fine backdrop for just that. This is what’s so wonderful, you see.

Parties. Ya know, our ancestors partied a lot more than we do. By party I mean, social gathering everyday–our lives as social animals depending on it. It was built-in to lifestyles then, yes, we depended on one another in fundamental ways for survival. Forget about this thriving stuff. Like, if I didn’t depend on you, I might not get a crop this year or whatever. Back-breaking work then didn’t mean being hunched over a computer and sustaining repetitive motion injuries, it mean producing fundamental goods that sustained our life. God help me if the internet goes out or the massive earthquake fault line we live directly on top of doesn’t shake the hell out of all the massive systems (that I have no idea how they work) that supply me basic things like beans. I don’t know how to grow beans! And with the internet out, how will I learn?! Heeeelp, people.

So, it’s imperative that we invest in one another now. Folks buy glorious properties on the island, not because they want to hole-up and die surrounded by only people they pay to. No. People buy island property with the vision of sharing it in some way. Creating a legacy. We think we will too. We have the best intentions (the road to hell, ya know) then life happens. The screwy parts of our culture, an unintended consequence of modern technology, has us lit-up in the dark not by the warmth of conversation or the delight of shared experience between us in the flesh, no, but by the sickly pallor of the computer screen. Wake up. Share what you have. Ask for help.

It’s easiest to give. Lots of givers around here. What we need more of is regular folks asking for help. Some version of “This is important to me, will you help me?” is a start. Push away from the computer, the cat videos, the comparisons. It’s a leap. What will aid in crossing the chasm into doing what really matters is choosing to believe that you make a difference. You do. And you can make a different difference if the one you’re making now sucks. Life is short, don’t suck.

Aside from private residences, here are a few special places to gather on-island (even if you’re off). I look forward to adding to this list in the flesh with you!

In no particular order… the old boar, hilltop field, pru’s cabin, treehouse, lytle beach, hitchcock, the grassy median outside the aquatic center, boat dock, waterfront park senior center, rooftop–adjacent to art museum, the art museum, fay bainbridge park, rolling bay hall, seabold hall, battle point park pond, grange hall, pavilion cement garden, skate park at strawberry hill, hawley beach when the tide’s out, beach house, lynwood theater, farm kitchen, hey day farm, halls hill labyrinth.

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“I visited many places, some of them quite exotic and far away, but I always returned to myself.” ― Dejan Stojanovic

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Philosophy, Random

Payment

In hindsight, I ought not to have paid him upfront.

This lesson could have cost me a lot more. Larry, thank you for showing me who you are. I do think you sell yourself too short but who am I to quip with you not meeting your word? The fact stands. You blame the designer but he can’t help with your integrity problem either. He met his word and struggles beyond that. We all have struggles–you haven’t the slightest idea of mine and you have attempted to impose on my graces. What you can hope for when you operate this way is limited to the extent of your illusions. I pray they last because at this rate, you won’t.

I could have made it myself for what I paid you to do it, while I worked elsewhere to pay you, while you didn’t do the work. Have you ever done such a thing? Do you know what it is like to pay for a deliverable only to receive long-winded excuses, a sling of insults, an ache in the head and an extreme pain in the ass? I will tell you: I am surprised and not in a good way.

So while you have my money and I don’t have the deliverable, you have my attention here. When something seems wrong like this does, it gets lodged in my craw and then I feel all the responsibility in the world to right it. I don’t know who died and made me keeper of the justice but I wish they would rise again and relieve me.

While I breathe until something else happens, here is my best advice: Fuss around with the shit you have been given and produce what you can. Words are cheap. Make something you are proud to put your name on, Larry! I thought $$$ would be motivating because to name my price for a job and get paid for it out of the gate like you did would motivate the shit out of me! What else can I say? I was wrong. This isn’t working out. I want my money back.

People put energy into feedback like this for others when they care. Most people wouldn’t waste the keystrokes, like throwing oxygen after the dead is only good for the bugs eating the carcass, feedback for someone you don’t care about getting any better is besides the point.

I am asking for now what I asked for then–provide something valuable, something positive to credit you for, something to promote, something to add to your repertoire of talent, something that makes us a team to make something more. I saw this project as an opportunity when I presented it. You agreed then. You appear to be taking it as a victim now. I implore you to take responsibility for the project you signed-up to do, not make it a loss.

This reminds me, we have a choice. We wake each morning and to some extent, regardless of our circumstances, we get to decide: Do I want to be a decent human being today or a piece of shit liar, for instance. I think it is that ignorance of choice in the first place that gets a lot of us screwed-up.

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*I will still pay people upfront, just not Larry.

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Philosophy, Random

The rest of the story…

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So much goes untold. From here on out I will tell the juicy parts. The parts that drip off the table, I will allow to land here, in addition to the party invites and reviews. Why not? I find myself astute and observing. To keep my musings to myself in the fashion of burying them in a notebook until the pages choke with my scrawls or shredding them of context to fit facebook is really throwing away a thing I am good at. Writing. It could be the thing. To repress myself is not humility, it is self-hatred. Enough of that.

I write to find out what I think. This is true for me and is so for Stephen King, even before he said it. There. I may walk and talk to find out what I think too but that is a longer road. I often take a friend at that so I don’t get lost. I repeat myself when I walk and talk. Not so in writing. Writing gets me out of my head. That makes no sense but it is no less true.

These posts will be tagged Uncategorized. Feels blasphemous to write it. Previewed the post to see that it worked. I didn’t get kicked-out or have my writing fingers fall off so that’s good, I will continue.

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“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” -Anne Lamott

 

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Philosophy, Public, Themes

Housewarmings ASAP

Any occasion is an opportunity to party. I have moved several times, not just apartments but houses I have owned and not. The first as heady as the last and the key to settling so is to have a housewarming party as soon as possible.

There was a week staying at the Fairmont in San Francisco looking for a place to buy where a real estate agent picked us up every morning to tour all the nooks and crannies of the city and I was hungry the whole time for food, and possibly for something in my price range. I was cross there was no time in the house hunting agenda to eat and also to realize that I had no hand in the agenda in the first place! I threw fits then, internally I combusted. This was the housing lending boom of the early 2000’s– where pressure to buy was as high and willy-nilly as the extent the banks would loan you for. For the record, I said No. For the record, I said I was hungry for food.

The place we won we did for a price we were told we wouldn’t win it for. It was splitting hairs in my calling the owners bluff, I realize that now but I had had enough pushing and I was about to budge no further. For all the other offers on the table, I was surprised they chose ours in the first place. It was a tense and foodless experience up until our housewarming party thrown by the real estate agent. I credit her for large platters of shrimp, boxes under white tablecloths for presentation, creme puffs and quality picture framing. The moment she combined my apples and potatoes into the woven platter I had on the table “Look! It’s pommes and pommes de terre.” I forgave her everything and really adored whoever she was or would be from then on out. I committed. All the neighbors came. She invited friends she thought we ought to know. This was the beginning of a long life of meaningful, purposeful parties for me.

Before all that, there was the property manager showing me a studio apartment on 8th Ave across from Town Hall in Seattle. It was a birdhouse of a place, a few stories up, corner unit. This was a place of 12+ floors where some tenants have lived for 30+ years. I was looking at my future. She popped my dream cloud and pointed out the east window to a sliver between two skyscrapers downtown where I could see the sparkling Puget Sound. She consoled me before I could reflect on her first statement by drawing a line in the sand “Maybe someday you can have a full water view.” Oh that’s where you want the line to be, eh? I don’t think so. I think we are standing in a sliver view of you keeping your job if you don’t rent me this apartment, I talked to the maintenance man on the way up, I know you’re half full in tenants, and full up on riff raff. “I’ll take it!” I got it for $200 less than asking. It was a superb place. I loved there were so many windows, there wasn’t any wall space, and the french-doored bookcase (with a window in it!) that amounted to the kitchen–thoughtful in an embarrassing way, like a huge smile with crooked teeth. What can you do? The window sills sat below my ass, and a lot would fall out of those windows to the shrubs below over the years. Occasionally, I would go down to collect the things. I never lost a guest.

Once I moved into this place, I packed it with strangers for a housewarming party, and the result was that a casual gang emerged that looked out for me when it came to even stranger strangers in all my time there and that is probably why I am still alive to tell these stories today. They saved my laundry, they made sure I woke in the middle of the night when the fire alarm called for us to get the hell out, they walked the stairs with me instead of taking the elevator everybody did because one could easily go missing in the bellowous shaft of the stairwell. What then?

Bainbridge Island occurred to me just over a decade ago now. During a storm where a college professor gave us a driving tour of the island in places where the storm enraged the water sending waves over the road we tempted down. I didn’t know what the hell this place was but I knew I wanted to find out more then. We bought a condo off the plans, a reckless fever that lit us from within which worked out because we couldn’t really see the plan and associated model with the power out and all. In the pitch of dark, the real estate agent’s enthusiasm failed to wane; I remember really wanting her to calm the fuck down. We didn’t have a housewarming party, I had a baby instead so the parties centered around that which made a lot of sense. Parties are the balm to the ouch of living.

A couple months ago I moved into a house that is slotted to be torn down in a year. It is a fine shack of a place near the water that the real estate agent encouraged, “Mak it is funk-y and if anyone could make something of it, you can.” Then I did and I am. Straight-away I set on a housewarming plan, affixing the invite to bottles of wine, delivering to all the neighbors and hounding my well-worn friends and some family into attending, too. It was just the warming spirit this place needed! After that party I could settle in. It was as if the air shifted and started flowing in cahoots with me where before it was ominous and pokey and I had no idea if things would ride right. What I still can’t believe is the neighbor next door and the neighbor across the street each having lived here for several years, met each other for the very first time crammed thigh to thigh on the broken-down adirondack chairs I had rescued from the yard and wrestled onto the porch just for the occasion! This news thrilled me, tickled my toes even. I was too aghast with delight to say so then.

Regular people. I am regular people, too. The synergy of getting regulars together is something I have dedicated myself to because there is nothing else I am so good at. There is an obviousness about the craft that flows through me and I just allow it. Well, I wrestle with it, too. Fight, disagree, ignore and still–it finds me just in time and asap.

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The day after a party is my favorite. I get to reflect… and notice things I didn’t before that brighten my already sunshiney review. Things like the faces on these flowers here.

“Home isn’t a place… it’s a feeling.” – Cecelia Ahern

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Philosophy

The Company Party (Big)

Company parties tend to be rote so therein lies a fine opportunity to bust out of the office box and make a party that is particularly fantastic. Take care to add elements of surprise and delight.

For formal/large parties, keep attention to the feel of the broader space, it ought to convey respect and coziness. Be sure to see to the finer details like table arrangements. Seating assignments are everything. Draft a chart and then ask two people what they think of it. Do not ask questions at this stage, just employ their recommendations. Listen to all the stories, repeat nothing and people will continue to tell you what they think of your seating arrangements unabashedly for all of your party planning years to come.

Keep hold of the objective of the party, the essence, which is the kind of gift you want to give and check-in to see how the party is shaping-up to it. Make adjustments on the fly if you can carry them out covertly and without hurting anyone. Otherwise let it go.

A party is a gift to many in one shot, and your job as the party maven is to be sure the gift is delivered.

What has made all the difference in your company parties?

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Philosophy

5 Ways To Not Sweat It

Planning gets people feeling all the feels. In one moment nothing is together, and then in the next moment everything is together, and that sliver in between seems more like a dagger, and one that could go either way, killin’ it or killin’ you!

Here are 5 ways to keep cool and not sweat yourself into a funk before your festivity:

1. Keep hold of the positive perspective that brought you into this in the first place.

Don’t let your vision die because uncertainty is spooling-up doubt. If you are doing it right, things ought to feel uncomfortable. Learning is uncomfortable and mastery is the prize.

There are times when you applied this positive perspective before and it led to amazeballs results, remember? Believe it now, and again. If you don’t believe it, who will?

2. Take one thing at a time.

If ever there was a time that you would consider giving your right arm to quit your plan, it is when you have let a list of to do’s, each sing their own chorus of uncertainty in unison, play like a broken record in your head.  The song is unbearable and the thought of quitting your plan entirely, and the relief it will provide, is more palatable to you in that moment than, well, the benefits of retaining your right arm.

Stop the song. Take just one thing, and see it through.  Map it out, assign it, deadline date it–take it’s power over you, away.  See how smart you feel when you commit to taking one thing at a time.

3. Have no fear.

A perspective: The way is not to avoid failure. The way is to fail often and faster. Sounds nutty right? Let me explain. When you try to avoid failure as your main purpose, you get further invested in things that may fail regardless, and then it sucks more because it takes you longer to recover. And you are delayed in trying a new way, if you try again at all. Getting stuck in pain, self-loathing, and shame is real.

When you accept failure as a good sign–that you are applying yourself, putting yourself out there to face challenges that will bring you to a new level of awareness–you are free to keep trying things to realize your vision.

4. Plan B & C and, possibly, D, E, F, G…

This is the hardest step for me (and anyone else feeling particularly stubborn). To cling to the details you started with, is to potentially miss the point of the festivity, and puts you at high-risk of quitting and not realizing the event at all. Which is the ultimate shame!

It is like a child throwing a fit, and the parent losing their shit, and the whole afternoon being ruined. When really, it could have been a nice time if the parent just let the kid-fit blow over.

So, make a list of other options before you are thrown into having to consider other options by surprise.  This way you will be in a better place to see the virtue of other options, and feel sane sliding into other options to save the day. There are always other ways but not more time to do them, which brings me to my final point.

5. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

One thing is for certain, you will run out of time. Therein is relief, ultimately.  Until then, keep your mind and body about progress. Don’t quit because the quitting will come for you before you are ready. This is your time–to learn, to grow, to take care, to maintain, to feel all the feels. Make your plans and festivities happen, one way or another, you have only to lose the experiences you forgo creating.

If you have other ways of not sweating it, please share in the comments section.  I look forward to hearing what works for you!

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Philosophy

In Service To

What keeps us from life satisfaction? There are many theories. The one I posit regards a giving of yourself to a cause beyond the sole purpose of benefitting just yourself. It is to be incredibly vulnerable, and to empathize with the incredible vulnerability of another by taking action. Action! What we find when we stick our necks out, to give to others what we also need ourselves, is an eventual rush of collaborators in kind. To find community in this way is one of the joys of life, and it can also be a way of life! I urge you take action to stand for the kind of world you want to live in, not only to bring sustainable satisfaction to your life, but for the effect it has of drawing others into confidence to stand for others, too. Today.

Here is just one example for your consideration, something you may model and/or participate in this week:

Leave Them: Un-Silencing Victims of Sexual Assault

100% of the funding raised from ticket sales, mercy sales and donations is going into this project: a music video serving as a PSA/social justice piece giving voice to the silent victims of sexual abuse. Two solo shows to fund the project happening May 21 – living room on Pleasant Beach Drive and June 3 – store on Madison Avenue.

What are you creating now?

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Philosophy, Random

Row with your muse

It is shocking.

I decided long ago that I would use my energy to love, to understand, to build collective consciousness, and none of it to fight. I learned much later that I could also let go of what I loved, understood, and helped build, that in fact it would be taken away from me regardless and eventually. Also, if I found my energy to be alone in the endeavor, it was likely I was persuaded by Ego missives to stay in that limiting place. One’s calling is beyond the furling captivation of Ego and so to take a leap quiet from it makes sense. I came to believe that if I could soar to greater heights in love and understanding, then the whole world could, too. Where at once it is all about me, and not about me at all.

My goal in any relationship (i.e. professional, familial, romantic) is to maintain a mutuality of holding one another up to the light, from within a shelter from the storm. A relationship where even one person busts things up within the shelter, is not a relationship for me. I have walked through the fire many times to learn these lessons. There will be other fires to walk through, and I am not afraid. When I keep aligned with my purpose, I am never lost or alone. I have given up hope of a better past, and therein lies forgiveness. Once the seal of resistance is broken, forgiveness flows like a mighty river. It’s a process to keep the flow going. This is work.

All the best with your work today.
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Philosophy, Random

Surprises & Bikinis Are Not Swimsuits

How to throw a surprise party for someone who detests surprises:

  1. Anticipate the needs of the person the surprise is honoring, and make those a priority.
  2. Inform guests of the schedule (and verify their knowledge) so they may be the best co-conspirators on the face of the planet.
  3.  Allow a graduation of events.  Expect something to exhaust itself and be ready with the next order.

How it started

My 2nd baby just turned a year old, I was still nursing, and I was particularly tired at the moment that planning ought to have started for my 30th. My husband wistfully reminded me of my favorite restaurant on the island, and the capacity he and my brother had together, to take me to it. That minimal effort on my part, would produce the maximum reward. I nodded Yes. The promise of getting ready for anything gave me hope, and I liked to encourage people to go places and take people along, even the sullen; creating occasions, even if there were none prior. Yes.

What I wore (Act I)

Monochrome palette of cremes with gold accents. Long gauzy skirt; linen tank tuck-in tight; double string of oversized pearls wrapped in fine netting, with a tired satin bow in front and to the side; four-inch stack heels, thick and strappy. I felt like an angel that had been flying too long, worn on the edges and beautiful for the effort.

Details

On cue, I floated to the back table at Hitchcock and around the bend, there sat all of my girlfriends. All of the good ones anyway. I was overwhelmed and so I ignored them. When the males remained standing with the baby, and handed a gift card to the nearest girlfriend “for the drinks” I realized the company I had arrived with would be abandoning me to this newfound crowd, and I had either to assimilate or to run.  I kept run in my back pocket.

They sat side-saddle looking at me expectantly, their faces especially dolled-up for an island party, their perfumes wafting, the whole of them sumptuous and embarrassing. I did what I could do at least, which is to shrug my shoulders at each pair of sweet inquiry eyes until something else happened. I don’t like surprises but I soon forgot this and settled-in like a regular surprise go-getter, chatty mcChatster.

The food courses came and went, as did the jokes we played off one another. We laughed and laughed.  My face was sore, presumably for all the smiling and not for all the eating when one of my friends remarked that the night had only begun and I was not going home.

Momentarily, I was cross. Already my shoulders were getting cold and this didn’t bode well for the rest of me, should I be subject to the rest of the night out. What had happen to me? Had I become a lame-ass ninny a mere 30 years in?! I decided that if I had, I may be young enough still to outrun it. Also, I blamed hormones, which are transitory in their effects and may be powered over and through by a willing-enough subject.

What happens with hormones is, your baby needs you (food) so your cave (feeding space) becomes desirous over anything, even the stuff you once thought entirely pleasurable. It’s like a depression only you don’t feel depressed, you feel focused, and right. I tried to be quiet about it, least something like I love my cave, leave me alone! burst out, a statement I could very well not pass without fanfare in this company, for they would pull me into explaining, and well, I might kill them. It was paranoia without the fear; sort of amazing.

I digress. What ensued felt like a movie.

We carpooled through the winding roads in the woods, on the darkest of nights. Screaming as we hit bumps in the road and turned onto dead-ends that we had only to back our way out of. We spooked ourselves into a delirium like the grown women that we were.  I loved everyone a bit more for it. The friend driving could see well out of only one eye. I was thankful she had the one eye.

Eventually set before us was a compound of sorts, a lovely estate on the water, complete with a pool house that rivaled the main house for old-world class and sophistication.  I fell in love again.  I decided to be a lover of surprises from there on out.

What I wore (Act II)

My moment was crushed by the idea that the presence of the pool would require my presence in a swimsuit. I was sure I didn’t own a swimsuit.  My husband packed a bag.  Of course he packed a bikini I thought I had thrown out when I turned 19. Of course I hadn’t shaved in this millennia, and my breasts look like something someone going into the porn industry may very well like to try on for size before they commit to the surgery because they were so large.  

I wanted a solid, sleek, racing swimsuit that cut right up to my neck, with a slight turtle, a zipper in the back, and high-cut leg holes so I could scissor kick fast or swim like a frog without any chaffing or slippage. Assholes made bikinis and even bigger assholes wore them, I was convinced.

In my master suite on the bed, my dear friend had so carefully laid out a razor all tied up with a bow, and I cried at the site of it.  It was a 5 blade thing, I could do anything now, even wear a bikini.  Certainly, I had the best friends in the world.

Note: Never underestimate the power of anticipating needs.  The smallest acts of kindness can make the all difference.  There is always something you can do in a moment to connect with another person; it’s one of the gifts of being alive. If the best gifts could talk, they would say “Me, too.”

Candles, food and drinks, hot tub and pool, jaunty photo from the 60’s or 70’s of people in this very place having a hay day, stuck in the mirror of the changing room just like I was. And here we were, making another hay day! Was I dreaming? How long could I stay in the changing room stuck in the mirror with the picture?

It occurred to me that to socialize would require that I show off my crazy big nursing boobs in asshole swimsuit. It felt like a fair trade after a few glasses of wine. I was the birthday girl after all.

The rest

After kibitzing in the pools with my friends and forgetting about my breasts, the lot of us padded-out onto the lawn that rolled into the Puget Sound out back.

We took turns making wishes and lighting lanterns to hold them together until they summoned enough heat to rise into the air.  We watch them rise and reflect on the water, dancing with the moon twice.

Eventually we shuffled into hot showers and slipped into pajamas. One friend unrolled a poem she had written for me and read it aloud. We clapped. She went on the write a book. Another woke from sleep crying and begged forgiveness for missing her family. We consoled her. She went home. I fell in love many times over that night, rolling into the morn.

Thank you

I never met the woman that owned the estate, Mrs. Webster. She lived there in the main house, on the night of the party, too. I imagined her discrete, understanding, and to think bikinis assholes, although not one to use that language, but the kind to share a knowing smile.

To give of one’s place is a giving of one’s self–for a fete in my honor at the ask of a dear friend–what a gift!  I learned today that Mrs. Webster died a few weeks ago. This article is dedicated to her, and to all of her dear friends.

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“Are you ready?” Klaus asked finally.
“No,” Sunny answered.
“Me neither,” Violet said, “but if we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives, Let’s go.” ― Lemony Snicket
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